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Day 3: 2017 April Blog A Day Challenge - Professional Mentoring

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Prompt: What role has professional mentoring played in your teaching career?



Today, my field supervisor for my graduate program came to observe me working with one of the teacher teams I am coaching this semester. Because half of the team was out with the flu, it was 1:1 coaching time!  It can be a double-edged sword.  Is there going to be enough to discuss with one teacher instead of two?  Is the teacher going to have enough autonomy in the pair to make decisions and keep the work moving forward? As we began the work together, all the while being watched by a field supervisor I had met only an hour earlier, the discussion flowed. We dug into thinking about the development of the new mastery skills for the upcoming unit.  The thinking the teacher was doing was exciting to experience and as a coach, it pushes my own understanding of the process of developing mastery skills for content outside my expertise.  

I share this story because it is an important reminder for me about the importan…

Day 2: 2017 April Blog A Day Challenge - Teaching Wins: Growth

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Prompt: Teaching Win: Where have you grown the most this year?
I am in my last semester of completing my a second MSED in Leadership (School and District).  There are a multitude of moving parts this year both in and out of the classroom as I fulfill graduation requirements as well as course work on top of keeping up with the day to day teaching of three different English classes.  Needless to say, it is a lot and I am working far beyond my capacity.  I knew this year would not be my best work in the classroom, but I always go into an experience hoping to learn, stretch my thinking, and leaving with new insight into the hows and whys of any job I am doing.

This semester I am working with a Algebra II ICT co-teaching partnership.  The pair are an exceptional example of strong ebb and flow when it comes to team teaching.  The content teacher, a young woman in her second year, joined out staff this year. In addition to asking her to take on learning the new CC Algebra II curriculum, we als…

Day 1: 2017 April Blog A Day Challenge

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Prompt: Glows: What are your greatest strengths as an educator?

Saturday mornings, my husband and I order bagels from our favorite place in the neighborhood.  As some of you know, New Yorkers take their bagels very seriously--almost as seriously as they do their pizza, subway riding, or sidewalk etiquette. They only deliver on Saturdays, so it has become ritual over the last 11 years.  As a teacher, I know there are a million other things that I could (should?) be doing, but nine times out of ten, Saturday mornings are for us. 

I share this story because I believe one of my greatest strengths as an educator has come with experience and time but happens out of the classroom.  It is my ability to take the time to reflect, refresh, and regroup.  The Saturday mornings do just this.  While there is a pile of papers to grade, lessons to plan, and hours to be logged for my apprenticeship, I know it will be there later and it will get done. If it doesn't, well, frankly that's ok.  I fin…

Flipping The Script: Coders as Novelists

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Last November, I had the distinct honor and privilege of being the title character in a New Yorker Magazine- Talk of the Town piece called “Can An English Teacher Learn to Code?” It was a privilege to get to speak up and out for young coders, for the Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE) and indirectly for the CS For All initiativethat was just beginning to take off here in NYC and later President Obama would push at the nationwide level.AFSE has been at the forefront of work-- work that Computer Science teacher Sean Stern says has made CS part of the core at our school- just like Math, Science, Social Studies and English.Our students understand that computer science is part of the four year sequence of learning and that there are opportunities to take full advantage of the experts, both inside and outside of school, that support the learning and development of all our students.
Fast forward one year.I am teaching Seniors at AFSE for the first time since joining the school four year…

The Morning After- How I Had Tough Conversations With My Students

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The workshop yesterday at AFSE on Restorative Justice with Erin Dunlevy was well timed.  As we participated in the morning training, I honestly didn't think I would need to be using some of the tools I learned to soon.  But last night, I along with all of you, watching the election results and America broke my heart (though not unexpectedly- as we all like a bad boy, right?)

I finally fell asleep around 2, wondering what I would say to my students in the morning.  My first period class on Wednesday is my AP Lang class.  We just spent a month thinking about language and rhetoric in politics as well as reading Thank You For Arguing. The 11th graders have begun to think critically of language and word choice and how a writer or speaker can use language to achieve a goal.  I knew that combining a content circle and keeping the discussion grounded in the content I would be able to get through a 60 minute class with out crying.

Before class started, I asked a few of the kids who arrive …

An Open Letter to Incredible Women on: Words, Gender and Unintentional Consequences

Dear Incredible Women: 

This post has been coming for a long time.

On Friday, I along with another amazing female teacher Angela, sat in a large circle with our two advisory groups combined for what is becoming a weekly tradition of young women, talk, and challenging of thinking and ideas.  I have deliberately brought topics to the circle that are things that I am grappling with and genuinely want to hear what they have to think and say on a topic.

This week, I brought to them the questions: 

When do we as females transition from being girls to women? When do we begin to self identify as women and even in some cases- like I have- reject the label of girl, because I have earned my status as women in my family, community, and society? 

I listened to them dance around the question for 30 minutes, touching on everything from their relationships and learning from their own mothers, aunties, and older sisters to what they feel they need to accomplish in life and how that is tied to womanhood. 

At…

Summer Reading: Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande

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I am heading into the second year of my grad program in school leadership (read: Administration). We were asked to read Atul Gawande's Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance. After everything I have been through over the last 3 years including weight loss surgery and the ensuing massive weight loss, thyroid cancer, vocal cord paralysis and surgery to help the paralysis, and surprise gall stones that led to numerous medical challenges between Thanksgiving and the end of the school year- and lots of trips to the ER and yet one more surgery...it was a difficult book for me to read. However, it left me with lots of ideas and thinking about systems, methods, and how to do things better.
There were so many moments that stood out:  “We want doctors to push and find a way...We also want doctors to fight even in the most mundane of situations.” (160) and “At some point you have to admit that you are up against a problem you are not going to solve and that, by pushing further and harder…